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Writing at the Margin: Economics and the Victorian Sensation Novel

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This paper explores how marginalist economics defines and inevitably constrains Victorian sensation fiction's content and composition. I argue that economic intuition implies that sensationalist heroes and antagonists, writers and readers all pursued a fundamental, "rational" aim: the attainment of pleasure.

This paper explores how marginalist economics defines and inevitably constrains Victorian sensation fiction's content and composition. I argue that economic intuition implies that sensationalist heroes and antagonists, writers and readers all pursued a fundamental, "rational" aim: the attainment of pleasure. So although "sensationalism" took on connotations of moral impropriety in the Victorian age, sensation fiction primarily involves experiences of pain on the page that excite the reader's pleasure. As such, sensationalism as a whole can be seen as a conformist product, one which mirrors the effects of all commodities on the market, rather than as a rebellious one. Indeed, contrary to modern and contemporary critics' assumptions, sensation fiction may not be as scandalous as it seems.

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2014-12

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The empire's shadow: Kiran Nagarkar's quest for the unifying Indian novel

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Kiran Nagarkar, who won the Sahitya Akedemi Award in India for his English language writing, is a man who attracts controversy. Despite the consistent strength of his literary works, his English novels have become a lightning rod - not because

Kiran Nagarkar, who won the Sahitya Akedemi Award in India for his English language writing, is a man who attracts controversy. Despite the consistent strength of his literary works, his English novels have become a lightning rod - not because they are written in English, but because Nagarkar was a well-respected Marathi writer before he began writing in English. Although there are other writers who have become embroiled in the debate over the politics of discourse, the response to Nagarkar's move from Marathi and his subsequent reactions perfectly illustrate the repercussions that accompany such dialectical decisions. Nagarkar has been accused of myriad crimes against his heritage, from abandoning a dedicated readership to targeting more profitable Western markets. Careful analysis of his writing, however, reveals that his novels are clearly written for a diverse Indian audience and offer few points of accessibility for Western readers. Beyond his English language usage, which is actually intended to provide readability to the most possible Indian nationals, Nagarkar also courts a variegated Indian audience by developing upon traditional Indian literary conceits and allusions. By composing works for a broad Indian audience, which reference cultural elements from an array of Indian ethnic groups, Nagarkar's writing seems to push toward the development of the seemingly impossible: a novel that might unify India, and present such a cohesive cultural face to the world at large.

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2011